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Upgrading the 'breathing space' meditation, some research-based suggestions (1st post): mindfulness & naming

Many forms of stress management & meditation teach brief "breathing space" exercises that can be used to bring oneself into the present in a variety of helpful ways.  These seem to have been particularly popularised by the 3 minute breathing space exercise (3MBS) taught in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).  Zindel Segal (one of MBCT's developers) describes the development of this Widen-Narrow-Widen attentional sequence in this short online article.

Mindful self-compassion residential: last morning, reviewing & appreciating

The first evening of this residential was back on Tuesday and it's now Saturday morning.  I've already written an initial post "Mindful self-compassion residential: first morning, doubts & overview".  So how am I feeling about the workshop now after three full days ... with just one to go?  Happy, touched, engaged, questioning, quietly inspired.  My initial doubts & impatience with the fact that such a widely taught training hasn't been backed up with better research still holds.  It wouldn't have taken a huge initiative to have set up a straight comparison trial between Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC).  How would they compare?  Would they have similar effects?

Mindful self-compassion residential: first morning, doubts & overview

Well this is interesting.  Here we are - Catero, my wife, and I - at the start of a five day workshop on "Mindful self-compassion" run by Chris Germer & Christine Brahler at Drangshlid, Eyjafjoll on the south coast of Iceland.  We flew into Reykjavik yesterday from Scotland, met up with a fellow course member who wanted to share transport, picked up our hire car and headed East on a two & a half hour or so's drive here.  Such a landscape ... bleak, beautiful ... in places a bit like driving across Rannoch Moor in Scotland.  And then arriving in time for supper.  Forty participants.  About twenty five are from Iceland and then there are about fifteen of us "foreigners".  And what a mix we foreigners are - from Estonia, Finland, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Canada and just three British.  The course is being run in English as Chris is from the States.

Recent research: articles from the winter journals

I read a lot of research.  When I find an article of particular interest I download it to my bibliographic database - Endnote - which currently contains close to 25,000 abstracts.  I also regularly tweet about emerging research, so following me on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ (click on the relevant icon at the top of this web page) will keep you up to speed with some of what I'm finding interesting. Additionally you can view this highlighted research by visiting Scoop.it (click on the "it!" icon at the top of the page).  At Scoop.it, I stream publications into five overlapping topic areas: Cognitive & General Psychotherapy, Depression, Compassion & Mindfulness, Healthy Living & Healthy Aging, and Positive Psychology.

Kidney donation: preoperative preparation & facing challenges generally - aspects of self-compassion

I've woken early.  Lying here I feel an unfamiliar hollow pressure in my gut.  What is this?  Fear?  Anxiety? Tension?  "Tense apprehension" seems to fit.  I'm lying here in the early hours of the morning, a hollow tense apprehension in my belly.  And it isn't surprising.  Pretty normal in fact as I move closer & closer to major surgery.  Consciously.  By my own decision.  On this journey, travelling down the "kidney donation river", I can hear the roar of the approaching rapids.  Surgery soon.  It's a pretty standard, basic, healthy response to tense a bit as I move towards the crux, possibly the most intense section of this "donation river".  And I don't have to tighten the rest of my body around the belly apprehension.  I can let go, loosen in my arms, my face.  It's OK. Nothing to do right now.

Kidney donation: preoperative preparation & facing challenges generally - goals and journey

I'm due to donate a kidney soon, and I have been writing about what's involved - see "Kidney donation: why it's well worth considering", "Kidney donation: what are the risks?" and "Kidney donation: preoperative preparation & facing challenges generally - values are central".  Primarily these posts are for other donors, but aspects of what I write are also relevant for facing challenges more generally as well.

Recent research: articles from late summer journals

I read a lot of research.  When I find an article of particular interest I download it to my bibliographic database - Endnote - which currently contains well over 24,000 abstracts.  I also regularly tweet about emerging research, so following me on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ (click on the relevant icon at the top of this web page) will keep you up to speed with some of what I'm finding interesting. Additionally you can view this highlighted research by visiting Scoop.it (click on the "it!" icon at the top of the page).  At Scoop.it, I stream publications into five overlapping topic areas: Cognitive & General Psychotherapy, Depression, Compassion & Mindfulness, Healthy Living & Healthy Aging, and Positive Psychology.

Some counsellors & psychotherapists are more effective than others

This is the third in a sequence of blog posts - "Therapist drift: black heresy or red herring - maybe not so important?", "Psychotherapy is helpful but has developed shockingly poorly over the last 30 yearsand now this one "Some counsellors & psychotherapists are more effective than others."  As you can see from the slide below, identification and study of highly successful therapists' methods and characteristics is an obvious area to explore much more fully, as it is almost certain to give leads on how we might make general improvements in psychotherapy's helpfulness.

Recent research: articles from early summer journals

I read a lot of research.  When I find an article of particular interest I download it to my bibliographic database - Endnote - which currently contains just over 24,000 abstracts.  I also regularly tweet about emerging research, so following me on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ (click on the relevant icon at the top of this web page) will keep you up to speed with some of what I'm finding interesting. Additionally you can view this highlighted research by visiting Scoop.it (click on the "it!" icon at the top of the page).  At Scoop.it, I stream publications into five overlapping topic areas: Cognitive & General Psychotherapy, Depression, Compassion & Mindfulness, Healthy Living & Healthy Aging, and Positive Psychology.

European Positive Psychology conference: 1st day - a disappointing start & caution on over-selling mindfulness

I'm in Angers, France at the 8th European Conference on Positive Psychology.  Yesterday I went to a couple of pre-conference workshops and then attended the Opening Ceremony and the first keynote lecture.  The conference venue is lovely, on the edge of Angers Botanic Gardens.  It feels too that the organising group here have put in a huge amount of work to try to make the conference a success ... so many thanks to them.  So why do I say that I found the first day disappointing ... and actually quite worrying?  

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